McMullan & Co were engaged by an international renewable energy development company to identify suitable lands and develop PV solar projects within Northern Ireland with a focus on Co Down as it has the best solar resource in Northern Ireland. This area also has reasonable potential for grid connection as it has no major windfarms or other large-scale renewable energy generators.
McMullan & Co identified a number of both greenfield and brownfield sites (disused World War II airfields) and carried out a detailed assessment of each, prior to identifying land at Tullynaskeagh as having the best potential in the area for grid connection and having the minimum visual impact from a planning permission perspective.
The planning application which ensued was the first of its kind and scale in Ireland. Covering 27 acres the project will generate 5.1 MW when complete, equivalent to powering 1,500 homes.
McMullan & Co’s role involved negotiations with land owners, engagement with local authorities and neighbour consultation, media management,preparation of site layout and related planning drawings, in addition to selecting the other specialists to carry out their assessments and prepare related reports as part of the planning application.A decision was made to grant planning permission after 5 months and there were no objections, despite it being a “first”.
McMullan & Co also prepared detailed submissions as part of the DETINI consultation process on the Renewable Obligation support mechanism (ROC) and conducted a related lobbying campaign with the Northern Ireland Assembly members. This had a significant influence in convincing DETINI to modify their published proposals for ROC derogation to more sustainable levels.
McMullan & Co continue to develop a “pipeline” of PV solar projects within Northern Ireland.